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How to Survive the New Year Gym Crush

Three tips for making the most of your gym's busiest month.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

What’s the best way to keep your sanity when the gym is as busy as ever? The simple answer to that question is: don’t “survive” it, but instead embrace it. Weren’t we all “resolutioners” at some point. Remember taking that first step to find a community that would hold you accountable for training and help you celebrate successes?

Whether your foray into the triathlon world and trips to the gym began on a past New Year’s or in the middle of July, we all have an important role of being welcoming stewards to those entering the fitness world—even if it means sharing a lane.

Find the Quiet Hours

If the crushing crowds of newbies and experienced fitness buffs alike are overwhelming, talk to your gym about which hours are quietest. Depending on the area, the emptiest times at a gym are usually very early in the morning or late at night.

Instead of looking at either of those time frames as a death sentence to your schedule, flip the mindset as an opportunity to elevate your training. Remember, most triathlons require you to get up early in the morning. If you haven’t previously trained before 7 a.m., give it a go for a few weeks and look at it as a strategy for sharpening your mental fitness and physical toughness—same goes for training late at night.

Don’t Hate, Educate

It’s easy to sigh impatiently, roll your eyes or say a curt “excuse me,” when someone is clearly unaware of basic gym etiquette.

Triathletes are known for being time-conscious perfectionists, which has its pros and cons. We usually head to the gym with a tight time frame, a structured workout, and carefully measured nutrition in our bottles. The reality is that triathletes are the minority.

This January, when confronted with someone who is new to the pool, treadmill, spin bikes, or weight area, take it upon yourself to be a positive ambassador of the triathlete community. Offer up a smile and some education—perhaps how to “work in” on the weight bench or explain the difference between splitting a lane and circle swim. The smile of relief you’ll get from the newcomer will be all the reward you’ll need.

Recruit Some Groupies

No, not those kinds of groupies. The New Year is the perfect chance to ramp up the group workout efforts with your local triathlon club. Many people who are interested in joining the endurance world don’t know where to start—that’s where you embrace your role as an experienced athlete and be opening arms.

See if you can rally a group of club members to come out on a Saturday in January and request that each bring a friend. Keep the pace easy and the conversation friendly. You’ll likely gain some new club members and maybe even a training buddy or two in the process.

Send newcomers home with a write-up of a treadmill workout they can execute on their own time and add in some reminders about healthy snacks. If your club has the resources, freebies are a great idea.

The New Year is a chance for everyone to explore new fitness, join a community and challenge themselves to be the best they can be. Keep your cool, offer a smile, and ring in the New Year by supporting others on their fitness journeys.